Oakley Vale Primary School

Part of the Brooke Weston Trust

Educating the next generation of inspirational adults

Author Jim Smith holds an interactive workshop

Author Jim Smith holds an interactive workshop

A group of Year 3 students from Oakley Vale were invited to Beanfield Primary where children’s author and illustrator Jim Smith spoke to them about writing and illustrating books.

Jim who won the Roald Dahl Funny Prize in 2013 for the second instalment in his popular ‘Barry Loser’ book series, ‘I Am Still Not A Loser’, studied at art college before going on to become head designer for a coffee franchise and his own gift and card range.

He spoke to students about where his ideas for his books come from before holding an interactive workshop on how to draw some of the main characters in his ‘Barry Loser’ books.

He said ‘My books are stupid but fun and hopefully have a bit of a lesson about friends and families thrown in there as well. The main character Barry, is based on me when I was around 8-10 years old, my best friend in the book was my best friend Ben in real life and Mrs Trumpet Face was a woman down our road who was always shouting at us. They are all based around the excitement of when you’re a little kid. I think I just try and engage the eight-year old part of my brain and hope that children like it as well.

‘I wanted the main character to be someone with a very unfortunate name. I always felt that my name was a bit unfortunate as it’s so common but I took it to the next level with Barry Loser. I like the word loser I think its funny.’

Jim had his first book published at 35 and since then has had a further eight in the ‘Barry Loser’ series and three in the Barry Loser spin off  ‘Future Rat Boy’. ‘I always walk around with my sketchpad in my hand so if anything pops into my head I write it down. I think ideas often pop up and it’s a case of making sure you remember them.

‘I enjoy visiting schools and talking about my books and I’ve had feedback that students have become more interested in reading and drawing from listening to my sessions. I hope that students realise that anyone can write a book and that they don’t have to be too serious. It’s just a case of carrying on writing and drawing from when you are young as you grow up.’

Jim finished the morning by choosing students to draw ‘Looser style’ personally signing each drawing they then had the opportunity to purchase a signed copy of one of his books.

Year 3 student Marley Plaistere was chosen to be drawn by Jim said ‘‘It felt amazing to be chosen to have my picture drawn by Jim Smith. I thought that it looked like me. We have put it up on our classroom wall.’

Year 3 teacher Mrs Becky Annetts said ‘The morning was really enjoyable the students were really engaged and watched what he was doing and it was amazing watching them doing their own drawings and it was nice to see that there are some good artists in the class. They were really taking notice of all the details and came back to school really enthusiastic and wanted to spend time looking at the books they had bought.’

Year 3 student Freddie McGeown said ‘Jim was very good at drawing. I liked being taught to draw the people from his books. My favourite book of his is ‘Future Rat Boy’.

Year 3 student Sanjoli Juneja said ‘I liked the drawing part of the morning, it was really nice and he was very kind to us.’